Coldforged Atlas: Landmarks and Locations 1

I continue rushing headlong into the second year of writing Coldforged material, and this year I hope to cover enough topics in preparation to print as is possible. I hope we’re in the home stretch. Here I’m continuing my atlas, turning from looking at the physical geography of the continent to the political geography of where they all live, this time focusing on the most impressive structures and natural locations in each region.

Within every region and kingdom are Locations, landmarks, and relics that stand out from the rest as impressive marvels of either natural wonder or constructed feats. Every town, village, and castle has its own local wonders, that range from feared to revered. This focuses on the ones that are renowned throughout the region and beyond.

The Northern Taiga

The Ruins of Ulath-Ator

The remains of a once-great giant city sit atop a plateau a day’s walk north of the Ironarm Mountains, a platform of singular height among an ever-stretching flatness. Built during a past age by Frost Giants, its solitary and echoing loneliness is compounded by its inaccessibility. The great lifts have long collapsed, and the mighty stairs crumbled to worthlessness. The local frost giants consider the place to be a cursed location that passes that curse onto any who dare trespass. Nevertheless, great riches surely await those who could ascend its heights.

The Black Castle of Illus the Devourer

Somewhere, buried deep within the ice of the northern wastes lies a castle built of basalt and obsidian. Within this castle, is it said the king of the dead sits, entombed in ice and awaiting his final return. His harbinger, Moduru was but the first of his heralds, and those who seek the fabled castle never return, devoured body and soul to feed his eternal hunger.

The Jolian Glacier

A Solid block of ice miles across and deep, the great Jolian Glacier is the home of hundreds of Ice Drakes, able to nest atop of the massive, grinding sheet of ice in relative peace from predators. Every once in a long while, the frost giants will become determined and make their way atop the glacier, where they battle the great beasts and steal their eggs to be trained as guardians and pets to the tribes.

Bay of Endless Ice

Here, where the ice of the land meets the water of the Ocara, there is a huge underwater fortress home to thousands of Lustarian, great crustacean people, living beneath the waves in the unfathomable cold and frigid cliffs. They hunt, farm, and live here, among the fragmenting ice sheet and impossible waves, surviving where others would simply perish.

Caves of Arcanas

North of the tree line, past the Hyran ruins scattered under the ice, tower jutting up from endless snowdrifts, where the solid cliffs of ice meet the near-frozen sea are the Caves of Arcanas. Told only in legends and myths, it is rumored to be the entrance to the remains of one of the Cities of the Gods. The city is rumored to be of any number of different gods, from Taralin to Marija to Hileas. What actually lies within these frozen caves, no one truly knows, as their location remains a mystery to this day.

The Ironarm Mountains

The City of Wings

On a mountain unnamed by the landbound races, there is a city that kisses the clouds, one which is only accessible through the air, yet stationed and manned with people of all races. Wide towers stretch into the sky, and the air is constantly disturbed by the giant wings of massive creatures born to fly. This is the City of Wings, populated by Lamasu, Sphinx, Shedu, and other seemingly wise and powerful winged creatures. The land-bound are their slaves, forced to do the menial labor and maintenance of the city, subject to being tortured, slain, or eaten at a moment’s notice by the inhabitant’s capricious nature. The nature of the city is that of dichotomy between the land-bound and the airborne, but also between those who have owned and used slaves and the powerful and vocal few who question the need for, and perhaps the danger of, owning slaves.

The Labyrinthian

Deep within the three brothers, a trio of mountains central to the range, there is a labyrinthine city that stretches not only between the mountains, but under and through them as well. Within this massive city is a civilization of peaceful and extremely reclusive minotaurs who maintain a hidden world of their own within the Arm. The minotaurs are pale, with white, pale blue, and grey pelts, and fairly short compared to their wilder, more rambunctious kin, and focus less on brute strength and warfare than they do familial bonds and excellence in crafting. The City has three main cells, one under and within each mountain, that are centralized around the edge of a vast underground sea. The City also has a multitude of bridges, tunnels, and secret passages that connect three cells as well as connect them.

Mt. Cloudraker

Cloudraker is the largest mountain in the arm, located in the northeast portion, towards the sea. Towering above the rest of the range, its peak is constantly shrouded in clouds. Simply making it to the base of the mountain is difficult, as the peaks around it climb higher and higher. It is said that, if one was to reach the top of Mt Cloudraker, there would be castles among the ever-present clouds, filled with the riches of ages past.

Lagrakar, City of One Eye

Within the mountain ranges slopes, on the southern side, there exists the legendary home of the cyclops, an incessant menace to the Thraxians, Lagrakar. It is rumored that this city was once a giant’s city of some sort, and the giants themselves were cursed, due to their shortsighted ambition, to lose an eye and become the cyclops. Few claim to have visited the ruins and home, but those who do mention the rotten decadence and lonely grandeur of the city, heaped with refuse and pilled with the remains of both cyclops and their victims.

The Forest of Lev

The Grove of Illush Tiaran

Known to Levishans as a location of primal religious and natural significance, the Grove is rumored to date back to the time when the deities walked the world. Here, in a perfect circle, stand four massive trees sacred to the Levishans, Fir, Pine, cedar, and spruce, each surrounding smaller specimens of varieties known throughout the forest. These pines circle a small pond fed by a smooth and glorious waterfall from the cliff above. Around this small pond, between it and the circle of trees, the Levishans, or perhaps people from before even the Levishans existed here, erected a set of standing stones that tracks the stars, the sun, and the moon, even when it cannot be seen. The calendar of the Levishans, and thus the rest of the continent, is based on information derived from this one grove.

Kashra, Seat of Seasons

The city of Kashra is located, more or less, in the center of the forest. Its gleaming blue marble spires and delicate walkways through the trees between are a remarkable sight and one of the greatest architectural achievements of all of Tysis. It was here that the council of seasons, held by those whose blood ran true to the greatest of heroes through all of Levisha would convene to discuss the potential future of both their Demesne and their people. Now, as the land is riddled with both plague mad and feral fey, travel is difficult, and the tri-annual meetings have not been held in over a dozen years. Many of the city’s citizens have fled, but others, hearty and determined have stayed. Much of the city lies abandoned and in ruins, but the durable core, led by Prince Kyian, Blood of Huthos, remains determined to keep the city, and its legacy, alive.

Great Uliyrim, Tree of Time

Planed an eon ago by Marija themselves, the tree of time was once a site of pilgrimage and reverence. Now, however, drawn to its significance and power, it is the main encampment of the Feral Levishans. They continue to revere the dead deities tree, though they seem not to understand why, or what importance it held for them in their past lives. The tree stands higher than any other in its vicinity does, it’s impossible-seeming trunk held firm by implacable roots. Small rooms, erected in ages past, dot its surface like fungus, spreading up the trunk in a regular and circular pattern connected by open-air stairs until its wide branches are reached, at which time the single path splits into exactly twelve living bridges that each connect to a different room of their own. A circular bridge that traces a path beyond them all links these rooms. Now, though, its most noticeable feature is the sprawling and bustling camp at between its massive roots, each of which forms an impromptu wall for a number of tents and lean-tos that host the horde. They are careful not to desecrate, with flame or blade, the trees exterior, even though they are relatively rowdy and careless around other objects. This massive camp has become the permanent home to a number of those recovered from the plague, and some even see settling here as an inevitable event, though the rest of the fey in Levisha sees it as less desirable.

Fyadid

Levisha trades little with the outside world, most of what it does trade comes through the port city of Fyadid. Here, the rocks, trees, and hills of the gorgeous natural cove have been transformed over time into a natural refuge and paradise for any fey that decide they wish to interact with the outside world. The Levishans ask little about where the goods they desire come from, and the port is a favorite for more reputable and clean Brokensail Pirates. Its three distinct levels form progressive barriers between the outsiders and the fey inside. The first level, called the Husahn, or “Dirty” level, is where all of the dockworkers, sailors, warehouses and outsiders stay for the majority of the time, it is cheap and safe, patrolled by the famous Blue Sentinels, who neither give nor expect quarter when trouble arises. The second level, with three gates guarded by living stone caryatids, is called the Usal, or “washed” level, is both on and in the cliffs and hills. Here, those who can pay the fee – Three Levishan Gold marks – to pass the gates are able to enter a city distinct and separate from the rest. It is here that the nicer and more reputable tradesfolk, inns, and entertainment await; for those who can afford it. Beyond the Usal is the Jyurim, the pure quarter. The fey leaders who run the city and all its dealings live here, atop and within the cliff, where only those who are invited are able to pass the Colossus Gate.

The Footsteps of the Gods

A dozen lakes run east run north to south from the Rynadi falls to the edge of the taiga, where they suddenly vanish. These lakes, collectively known as the Footsteps of the Gods, have been landmarks to every being that have lived within the woods, stretching back long before even the elves have memory. These lakes are deep and cold, with numerous legends surrounding them of beasts and monsters that live within. Some tempt travelers to their watery deaths, some hunt the shores at night, and others simply consume their prey completely while they are on the water. Around these lakes have been built a few towns, who use them for religious ceremony and purpose as well as tapping into the mystical essence that suffuses them.

Killbarum

The Ruins of Killbarum

While many believe the city of Killbarum was razed and salted during the Second Lichwar, this was not completely true. While many of the giants were able to tear down much of the city, they were called away before they could complete the arduous task. Much of the city, indeed, was destroyed and salted, but a portion was left behind. While no living being exists here any longer, the souls of the damned, both defender and assaulter, haunt the tainted ground. From outside, the spires of the Arcanum of Magisters can be seen, forever smoldering from within the remains of the walls of the city. It is said that riches were left within, and those who are brave enough to venture completely within the land of the dead could emerge rich beyond their wildest dreams. No one has dared attempt it.

The Grand Amphitheater of Pausian

Sitting on the hill, overlooking the town of Lureita, is a massive and imposing structure, a place where thousands have died, and thousands more have yet to have their fates decided. This great structure, an amphitheater that could hold over 50,000 people, was the dream of Archmagus Pausian Cassiuam. The Archmagus absolutely loved gladiatorial combat and offered great sums of money, unending fame, and unlimited glory to those who would fight in his arena. The fights he staged for the citizens of Lureita ranged from single combats to pitched battles, animal hunts, and executions. The fantastic gray brick and stone structure still stands outside the city, and though it is now rarely used, when it is it is packed to capacity as the legacy of the city is put on display for all to see.

The Agarii Road

Running from the tip of the Imerian Peninsula, around undine bay and deep into the ancient Aloran City of Yashgapur, within the Tyndarian Kingdoms, the Agarii Road is a marvel of both ancient and current engineering. Though its creation is legendary, said to be the gift of the Archmagus Aremilianus to the Aloran King Chagan the Stern, paved over a dozen years to prove her loyalty and dedication to the King in order to win his hand. Though tales are unclear about the result of the gift on the King, its effect on trade has been felt ever since. Though wars and conflict may rage endlessly around the region, the road is considered neutral to those who traverse it and it’s rare, more recent branches. Militaries are, of course, exempt from this immunity. The road passes through 8 major cities and a dozen or more towns, with branches out to villages miles around. The trade from Killbarum to Tyndaria and Alora is key to maintaining taxes, supplies, and other resources flowing even in the midst of conflict.

The Kayas Isles

Spread across the Mouth of Undine Bay, it is said that the isles are the remains of a mountain range that divided Undine Lake from the sea, until one day, a child wept so much that the lake overflowed and tore the land between the peaks apart, combining the two bodies of water. These islands, varying in size from a single boulder to ones that house small, sheltered villages, are the main habitat of the Bay Harpy, a foul and stinking creature that patrols the islands and consumes all the prey they can find. They attack ships and coastal towns, from time to time, and the sheltered villages have to keep a wary eye to the horizon, watching for flocks of the monsters. These vile creatures are a serious hazard to anyone unprepared to cross their territory.

The Silver Caves

Within the Toldiri hills there lies a series of caves that the Killbarans guard with staunch resolve. These caves and the valuable wares within have been mined and protected for centuries as their resources are slowly extracted. There are two distinct types of caverns in the system. The first is the true silver caves, where the veins of pure silver sparkle and glitter for all to see. Mined day and night by criminals and captives sentenced to a life of hard labor, these form the basis of many of the coins created by the Killbaran republic. Today, it is in the hands of a powerful warlord who seeks only to remain in control of the incalculable wealth within. The Second type of cave is one where glimmering liquid silver pools amplify powerful magic. This pure liquid silver can be extracted, though great care must be taken to only touch a limited amount lest its madness overtakes you, or it can be left in place and manipulated with a vast array of divinations and conjurations, amplifying both beyond the ken of most mortal Arcanists.